WVU Parkersburg announces a significant enrollment increase in new students for fall 2020 and expects when final numbers are tallied to report level enrollment overall for the current semester.
“In the midst of a pandemic, I am delighted to be able to say that we are meeting so many of our enrollment goals for the fall semester at WVU Parkersburg,” President Chris Gilmer said. “While many colleges across the nation are struggling with significant declines in students, we have taken every step possible to keep our students safe, to encourage returning students to stay with us, and to welcome a large class of new students.”
Enrollment of traditional college students, currently 102.8% of last year’s total, shows efforts not only to retain students but also to attract new students. New student totals are currently up 24% for Fall 2020.
“The recruitment staff played a vital role in increasing the new student enrollment numbers,” Vice President of Enrollment Management Steven Smith said. “Prior to the pandemic, we were very intentional about increasing the number of applicants and cultivating that population to ensure enrollment growth.”
Continuing traditional student enrollment is currently up 1%, further showing an effort to retain students despite the pandemic. The final Summer 2020 enrollment also showed a 10% increase over Summer 2019. WVU Parkersburg is offering most of its courses for the fall semester in a technology-enabled instructional environment. Still, about 25 percent of courses have some hands-on, face-to-face component. Those courses are primarily in technical programs such as welding, and for some science, healthcare, and education programs that have lab and field experiences.
The university also opened Zoom rooms and computer labs for students, recognizing that access to the Internet in rural areas is one of the primary challenges of virtual instruction. WVU Parkersburg adjusted expenditures to keep tuition at the same affordable level for the 2020-2021 academic year, declining to implement an approved 5% tuition increase.
“We recognize that we will lose some students after fall deregistration, a process which adjusts our rolls for non-payment, non-attendance, or other factors, but we are doing everything within our power to find a way to hold onto every student who wants to earn an education. These amazing enrollment numbers will change somewhat over the next few weeks, but I could not be prouder of our team for posting such strong numbers during the third week of fall classes,” Gilmer said.
One section of enrollment that is not yet calculated into fall totals is the early college/dual credit population. To assist parents in getting students registered for classes, a process that normally would have occurred in May, college staff spent 10 evenings at high schools and allowed parents to drive up to register their children for early college. While that was effective at bringing in over 550 students, more registrations are expected through personal telephone calls to parents.
“The efforts to enroll early college students who haven’t been on their high school campuses since March is a team approach for which many people are to be thanked,” Vice President of Institutional Advancement Torie Jackson said. “This collaboration with our local school districts to provide higher education opportunities to high school students is essential and must be continued, which is why WVU Parkersburg devotes extra energy to ensure its success.”
The dual credit/early college classes at area high schools begin Sept. 8. Registration is continuing for those students. WVU Parkersburg provides early college/dual credit classes at 10 area high schools and in two vocational-technical centers. Workforce development registration has also not been computed as part of these totals and is expected to add a significant number of additional students this fall.
Established in 1961, West Virginia University at Parkersburg is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Academic credits earned at WVU Parkersburg are transferable to any institution in the West Virginia higher education state system as well as other accredited institutions throughout the country. WVU Parkersburg is the only public community college in West Virginia accredited to offer baccalaureate degrees